Dexter's Mill Creek Park to celebrate grand opening Saturday
Jeffrey Smith | AnnArbor.com
Editor's note: The time frame for the completion of the planned path to connect Mill Creek Park and Hudson Mills Metropark has been corrected. The village initially provided incorrect information.
Andrea Sellman grew up in Dexter and remembers when the area along the banks of Mill Creek in the village was just that, some land along the creek.
No longer. The area has been transformed into an attractive park with an amphitheater, boardwalk, two boat launches, two observation and fishing decks and benches.
"Last summer the kids enjoyed watching the construction equipment, and now it's really lovely," Sellman said on a recent day. "The wetlands smell so good and there are butterflies and bumblebees."
Nancy McKinney from Ann Arbor also marvels at the changes to the area now called Mill Creek Park.
"It's really pretty and I like that it's surrounded by trees," said McKinney's granddaughter Zoe White.
The first phase of the long awaited Mill Creek Park project is complete and will have a grand opening this Saturday, Aug. 11, right after the Dexter Daze parade. There will be a ribbon cutting ceremony open to the public at approximately 11 a.m. at the park located just west of downtown Dexter. .
The 4-acre Mill Creek Park project cost $1.24 million. The next phase involves continuing the path south on property that belongs to Dexter Community Schools.
"The park will have a huge impact on people wanting to live in the community and make Dexter a destination," said Allison Bishop, Community Development Manger for the village. "It's an easy walk from downtown and you feel like you're one with nature."
To create the park, the dam in Mill Creek was removed. Some restoration was done to the creek and rock control structures were installed. Most of the money for the project came from grant funding. The Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund provided $450,000, the Waterways Infrastructure Program gave $50,000, the county assisted with $200,000 in funding, and DTE provided $4,000.
"Four years ago we started the whole process because we saw the potential for this great park," said Paul Cousins, Dexter Village Council member.
Cousins that that a stairwell from the Mill Creek Park to the Dexter Farmers' Market on Alpine Street should be completed in about a month.
Courtney Nicholls, assistant village manager, said a path is under construction to connect Hudson Mills Park to the north to Mill Creek Park.
That path will be started in the fall and is expected to be completed next spring or summer Nicholls said. "The county will begin work on a path (Border-to-Border Trail) from Dexter-Huron Metropark to Mill Creek Park next winter or spring. We're the hub of several different trailheads," she said.
Even before the grand opening, Mill Creek Park has received a lot of visitors.
"Any time you go to the park there are people walking," Cousins said. "We had a vision and it worked out. This is a spectacular opportunity for the village to blossom."
Lisa Carolin is a freelance reporter for AnnArbor.com.